Cape Town 16.01.11 ANC meeting at, Landbou Saal in Piketberg picture : neil baynes

Johannesburg - The ANC is unhappy with the quality of its councillors and is reviewing guidelines for the selection of its candidates ahead of the crucial 2016 local government elections to prevent “miss-deployments”.

As the battle for voters is likely to be intense towards the municipal polls, the party has promised clearer guidelines and implementation of the cadre deployment strategy to address the disruptive influences and address the “miss-deployments”.

“The selection of ANC candidates who become councillors requires urgent review and lessons learnt on selection processes must lead to a review,” the party says.

The guidelines will include policies, principles and values inculcated into deployees.

“In addition, deployment must also reinforce retention for institutional memory to avoid the destabilising factor of constantly changing deployees often due to factional interests. There is a need to reconsider the calibre of councillors deployed to municipalities and proper assessment of performance,” the party says in documents tabled at its recent lekgotla earlier this month by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) legislature and governance subcommittee chaired by International Relations and Co-operation Deputy Minister Nomaindia Mfeketho.

The ruling party has promised to involve communities in its review guidelines for councillor selection, which will be discussed at its next NEC meeting.

According to the party, preparations for municipal elections need to be set in place and the process of selection of councillors is not vigorous enough to consider “appropriate and capacitated councillors”.

The documents show that the ANC wants a “protocol or code of conduct” to manage the relations between party and state.

“Consistency between alliance structures needs to be politically managed through the introduction of a protocol for alliance relations at local government level,” the party says.

The ANC admits that during the process of selecting its candidates for the 2011 local government, councillors were not approved by communities and this caused “lingering disruptiveness”.

The internal strife that followed forced the ANC to appoint a national commission headed by then Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Dlamini Zuma’s recommendations need “comprehensive implementation”, according to the party.

Among other problems identified by the ANC are that:

- Its councillors are not visible in service delivery hotspots.

- Councillors and municipalities not reporting back to communities and being responsive and even unable to resolve community needs.

- Councillors are removed even when there is proven performance and support, which leads to disgruntled members standing as independent councillors.

- Ward committees being used as an instrument for patronage by ward councillors.

As a result the ANC is considering reviewing the chairing of ward committees by ward councillors.

The ruling party has also resolved to identify the core basket of services to be delivered by differentiated municipalities in the next 180 days.

While finalising its campaign plans for the May 2014 elections last year, the ANC revealed its plans to unveil “bragging projects” – mega-projects that the ANC uses to showcase progress made by the Zuma administration.

The party has also learnt from the recent national and provincial elections and says this year’s election results have a bearing on how it “tackles challenges moving towards the local government elections especially for the metros”.

Comparative disparity in services and inequality had a greater influence on results,” the ANC claims.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said that deployment into local councils, especially in metros, will now take full account of their strategic importance in the economic and social life of the country.

“Appointments to key positions in municipalities must be based on competence and the tendency to interfere in the appointment processes by political structures in some areas should be eliminated,” Mantashe said.

The party also wants a comprehensive response to the destruction of state property and assets during service delivery protests through the security cluster and the necessary legislative amendments to effectively deal with this.

At the lekgotla, the NEC’s peace and stability subcommittee chaired by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Maphisa-Nqakula also undertook to strengthen government’s capacity to investigate and prosecute violent conduct in public protests.

SA Local Government Association chief executive Xolile George and intergovernmental relations head Reuben Baatjies say rhetorical political enthusiasm for public participation was not matched to the same extent by practice.

In a paper delivered at the Contonou, Benin Colloquium on Decentralisation in Africa in May, George and Baatjies warn that annual policy and legislative interventions in local government have the unintended consequence of breeding instability and a lack of confidence in and among local government politicians, practitioners and communities.

Communities are passive recipients of development rather than initiators and drivers, according to George and Baatjies.

“All too often, strategic agendas and budget allocations are agreed upon before public participation processes, rendering the participatory efforts largely meaningless since the outcome is a fait accompli,” they say, adding that a political culture of participatory governance is vital if development in local government is to be realised.

“The administrative leadership of municipalities and political structures should be acutely aware of the consequences that inappropriate political leadership has on functioning and therefore on service delivery,” they warn. - The Sunday Independent